In a world where geek is chic, data scientists — particularly those specializing in cutting-edge machine learning — are downright sexy. This small group of individuals has become an elite class of professionals being courted by a growing number of companies. 

According to McKinsey‘s May 2011 report, the U.S. has a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills. So companies must find new ways to acquire them and keep them happy. Below, we discuss what we’ve learned as we’ve recruited — and retained — more than 230 leading machine-learning scientists.

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